Fashion has always played with the mystical but social media has propelled astrology into the stratosphere. Dominique McDonnell-Palomares investigates the rise of cosmic content.
In the scope of modern technology, the stars have aligned for the magnetic relationship between Gen Z and social media – one platform being TikTok which has become the host for the astrology phenomenon with daily tarot card readings and zodiac sign analysis.
There is also a wide spectrum of designers who embrace mysticism. Alessandro Michele celebrated the stars in the Gucci Resort 2023 show, ‘Cosmogonie', owing inspiration to philosophers Walter Benjamin and Hannah Arendt. Fashion has always intertwined its magic with idyllic cosmology from Schiaparelli’s AW38 collection (inspired by Elsa Schiaparelli’s astronomer uncle) and designers’ superstitious beliefs, such as Coco Chanel and Christian Dior. Chanel had superstitions about the number 5 after being informed by a fortune teller that it was her lucky number – hence she presented her collections on the fifth day of the fifth month. Dior recalled his first palm reading at 14 years old in his autobiography ‘Dior by Dior’ where he was told by Madame Delahaye “you will suffer poverty. But women are lucky for you, and through them, you will achieve success.”
But what has made astrology – mythology dating back to the 2nd millennium BC – so alluring to Gen Z and fashion today?
“People are in a deep search for meaning and connection because the world is so fractured and scary,” psychological astrologer Dr. Jennifer Freed tells me. In the turbulence of the Covid-19 pandemic, uncertain elections and social injustices, astrology provides people with reassurance in contextualizing these events. This is a pattern seen before: the first newspaper astrology column appeared on the Sunday Express in 1930 after the stock-market crash, the New Yorker reported. Now almost 30% of Americans believe in astrology according to a 2017 Pew Research Center poll. IBISWorld reported Americans spend $2.2 billion annually on ‘mystical services’ and “in the past year the membership of the Association for Young Astrologers has doubled” the New Yorker writes. In a secular society, astrology replaces religion, “giving people something to give their lives deeper meaning,” Alice Bell – former Vogue assistant to full-time astrologer and co-host of the ‘Astrology and You’ podcast – tells me.
Not only does astrology offer understanding to world events but it also connects people to their identity. This aspect of self-expression is emblematic of fashion. Just as wearing a certain colour or pattern signifies your personality, so does astrology. Astrology can also inform our fashion choices as Bell tells me, “our star sign reflects our personality. Our Venus placement indicates what items you find to be aesthetically pleasing and how you like to dress.” Other pockets of fashion also celebrate this sensation. “The horoscopes I do for British Vogue now are some of the top-performing content on their site. The demographic for astrology is mainly young women aged 20-35, the same audience these magazines and publications are targeting,” Bell says. Fashion also provides people with products that “showcase people’s sign with astrology-themed clothing and jewelry collections,” she continues.
This is what Rachel Borghard is doing with her 2019-founded brand Dooz. Borghard explains “fashion is all about self-expression and connecting with other people, self-love and identity. Astrology, to me, is also about those same principles.” The fashion design graduate from Pratt Institute collaborates with astrologers such as Alice Bell, Nia McDow and Courtney O’Reilly who validate and authenticate the brand to “have it grounded in something beyond the surface.” The collections, ranging from bags to tees to jewelry, have a colour for each zodiac and embellishments are kept minimal to encourage people to wear any star sign they want to. “You can echo the energy of your sign or you can wear a sign that represents a loved one or channel traits of another such as Leo for confidence. It’s really just about how you want to interpret it.” This concept enthralls astrology lovers – you are not just restricted to one zodiac, you can have fun with it which even appeals to “customers who don’t really care about astrology and they buy the pieces because they love the colour or design and that’s totally a point. It’s how you want to connect with the piece.” Astrology is for everyone and Dooz is at the core of representing it.
Dooz’s best-seller, the ‘Céleste Bag’ takes the shape of a half-moon and comes in 12 colours, each dedicated to a zodiac sign. Image courtesy of Dooz’s website.
First-year Central Saint Martins womenswear designer, Charlotte Rochester is also captivated by the celestial world. The beauty of mysticism is at the forefront of her image and her 2021 CSM White Show garment epitomises this divinity. Rochester, who tells me “I love creating my own idyllic world of magic and fantasy,” took the brief of lovers and transcended into a heavenly world of soulmates. From researching Roman mythology and the science of zodiacs, Rochester’s final garment was inspired by the ‘Twin Stars’ painting by Luis Falero. “It’s of two entangled lovers connected to stars. It captures the idea of destined love perfectly” she says. The dress – adorned with two bejewelled stars structured on each shoulder – inspired Rochester to illuminate celestial imagery in future designs as she says, “there are so many avenues to research when it comes to astrology”.
The ‘Celestial love dress’ garment by Charlotte Rochester. Photography by Orien Hough and Zacharie Lewertoff.
From Dior’s talismans such as “a pair of hearts, a sprig of lily of the valley, a gold star, a four-leaf clover, and a piece of wood” wrote Vogue, astrological fashion is proven to stay. After all, for creatives, astrology is the perfect potion to be interpreted and stretched across a universe of unique designs with its enigmatic sorcery. In a society slowly becoming detached, what we need is to rebuild these connections with each other, and that is exactly what astrology is doing. Particularly amongst Gen Z, asking for someone’s zodiac sign is like asking for their age, or where they are from. It’s a common ‘icebreaker’ and that is proven by Borghard and I as we discuss our similarities as Taureans. “This is what I love about astrology, you can always find some sort of connection with someone!” she exclaims.